Probably not the kind of pubicity they wanted

The Red Lion Area school district in Pennsylvania tried to drum up some sponsors by creating a snazzy banner to display at football games. I imagine the idea was “Hey, once local businesses see how cool our banner looks, they’ll want to become sponsors and get their names up on the next banner!”

But their banner had a wee bit of a typo.

Don Dimoff, the marketing and communications manager for the district, said:

“Of all the missed letters, it had to be that one. The poor sign company feels horrible because they missed it. The people who hung the sign feel horrible because they missed it. I feel horrible. I’ve been losing sleep and haven’t eaten in two days trying to deal with this.”

The school district has apologized for what they described as an “unfortunate error.”

Cheer up, Red Lion folks! Maybe the banner will attract some sponsors after all—though maybe not the kind you were expecting.

You say employer, I say employee

“Okay, okay,” you say. “Pointing out typos and other copy editing failures is fun and all, but does any of this stuff really matter?”

Well, how about this? In Albuquerque, New Mexico, officials recently wrote up a proposal to increase the minimum wage and change how employees receive tips, hoping to get it on the November ballot. More than 12,000 people signed it, and the proposal seemed on its way to a slam-dunk victory, before someone noticed an error in a key section. Here’s the troublesome passage:

The measure would also require that starting in 2013, employers of tipped employees like waitresses and waiters be paid at least 45 percent of the minimum wage in cash wages from their employers.

See the problem? According to the wording above, who will be receiving the wages here? That’s right—the employers. Obviously, it should be the employees who will benefit from the change in minimum wage and tips, not their bosses. But that’s not what the proposal says. Councilor Ken Sanchez, one of the sponsors, said that if the proposal passes as is, lawsuits will probably be filed against the city.

As you might imagine, changing the wording of a government proposal after it’s been voted on involves just a bit of bureaucracy. Albuquerque city councilors are thinking about letting the current proposal appear on the ballot and also putting up another version with corrected wording. (Sure—that won’t be confusing to voters.)

Whatever happens, this is a good lesson in clear writing, good copy editing, and/or careful proofreading—take your pick.

(Here’s the source of this story.)

 

 

It’s a beautiful day in the . . . whaaaaat?!?

A guy named Ben Akselrod is running for the assembly in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. His campaign sent out mailers that blamed an increase in crime on the policies of his opponent. But check out the highlighted phrase in the mailer:

If you can’t read it, the phrase says the opponent “has allowed crime to go up over 50% in our negrohood.” Yow.

Not to worry! Akselrod says it was just an unfortunate typo. He responded thusly:

“As the candidate, I take full responsibility for this inadvertent error and I am sorry to anyone who was offended by it.”

That’s some inadvertent error, all right. You really have to go out of your way to misspell “neighborhood” as “negrohood.” Most typos aren’t quite so . . . different from the original word.

But even if we give Akselrod’s campaign the benefit of the doubt and assume that the word truly was an unintentional typo rather than a Freudian slip, the mailer still makes him look pretty bad. It contains several other spelling and grammatical errors. For example, we learn of Akselrod’s desire to “Creat” jobs and the fact that he misspelled the very name of the district he wants to represent! Heck, even his name seems like a typo—I mean, is it just me, or do you want to mark up your monitor to change the spelling to “Axelrod”? Clearly, the text wasn’t even run through a spellchecker, much less proofed by human eyes.

Regular readers of GRAMMARGEDDON! will remember that we recently saw another creative misspelling of “neighborhood” on a Boston public school sign. Maybe there’s something in the water on the east coast.

(The photo comes from this article, which provides more details on this incident. I’ll be interested to see how it affects Akselrod’s prospects for election.)

Q: What do you call a neighborhood for hobos?

Nothing instills confidence in your school like seeing a big typo on the sign by the front door.

O no!

Just think: someone (probably many someones) had to write those words, create the sign, proof the sign, drill it into the brick wall, look at it, nod contentedly, and walk away, whistling a happy tune.

The photo comes from the Dudley Street Neighborhood’s Facebook album, and if you check out the comments there, you’ll see that the school posted the photo proudly, then realized their mistake after several people pointed out the error. This article offers a good quote:

“I think we get a big, fat F for the spelling on this sign,” said Matt Wilder, director of media relations for Boston Public Schools. “We are already in the process of fixing it, and it will be taken down today.”

Kudos to the school for acknowledging the error and moving quickly to replace the sign. But this incident just goes to show you that, for good or ill, it’s hard to get away with typos in these days of instant feedback from social media.

 

Signs and Portents

Because I like the word “portents” in combination with “signs,” and for no other reason, I made that the title. I’m sure you’ll deal with it in your own ways.

Well, okay; part of my reason is also that I have this neat pic of a sign, which I’ve quite openly swiped from Amanda Patterson over at The Plain Language Programme (Aussies spell things with extra letters, just like the Brits do).

Here’s your sign. (Apologies to Bill Engvall for stealing his line, but in this case it really is relevant.)

All that’s needed to correct the problem is an “s” and an apostrophe. That’s all. Such a simple fix, yet so very far away . . .

Then there’s the gem I received via a Facebook message from a friend, Janet Deaver-Pack. She shared with me a typo from the cover of the newest catalogue from Bits and Pieces (http://bitsandpieces.com), which features a “secret book box” that I presume is like this one. I presume this, because the same error appears on this item. Look closely at the central “book” title. The last time I checked, something decorated with gold is “gilded.” Perhaps the creator of this product is a union supporter; that might begin to explain the typo.

As Janet said to me, “There are dictionaries in the world.” Of course, some folks need the special “misspeller’s dictionaries” because after all, if you don’t know how to spell the word to start with, how are you supposed to find it?

 

Super Mario and Hitler

I went to GenCon last week and have been thinking a lot about games, so what better time to bring you a trio of game-related typos?

Our first howler comes from New Super Mario Bros. 2, a recent release for the Nintendo 3DS. The Mario games are extremely popular across all Nintendo game systems, so this isn’t exactly a tiny error in an obscure product that no one will ever see.

No, Mario, I don’t want to click OK! That implies my acceptance of the typo hovering right above the button! (The above image is a screenshot I took of a short video that documents the error, proving it isn’t a fake.)

Our second typo is also from the New Super Mario Bros. 2 game, this time from the manual. (Yeah, yeah, I know—errors in an instruction manual? The devil you say!)

According to the note below the cute diagram, co-op play requires two Nintendo 3DS systems, two game cards, and two game cards. Is that Nintendo’s sneaky way of saying you need to buy four game cards? (The above image comes from this article that documents the typo.)

Let’s give poor Mario a break now and turn to our third typo, which comes from the world of Major League Baseball. I can’t improve on the title of the article where I found this typo, so I’ll just echo it here: There are closed captioning typos, and then there’s calling Carlos Pena “Hitler.”

It’s nice to know that Godwin’s law holds even in baseball games. (By the way, the expression on Pena’s face above is crying out for a “WTF?” thought bubble to be Photoshopped above his head.)

Thanks to the GRAMMARGEDDON! readers who alerted me to some of these mistakes. And if you see anything worth spotlighting on the blog, feel free to send it in. Your efforts will be also be appreciated.

Let’s shoot the chute!

I have to say this isn’t a very common error, at least in my experience stalking the wild typo. In the coffee aisle (not isle) at the local big box department store, next to the pricey “designer coffee” with its own grinder, I spotted this sign.

Maybe it’s missing a comma?

In fact, this is such an uncommon example I stood there for a few seconds while my brain processed the information. I wasn’t in “editing mode” during this part of our trip, admittedly. Usually that mode is always engaged and running in the background. The delay rather unnerved me, truth to tell. However, once I realized what I was seeing, I snapped a photo for posterity (and you, kind readers) because it was just too good to pass up.

As for my caption: I did come up with a rather unconventional correction that could conceivably make sense. Kinda. A little. Okay, not really, but it amused me to think of it. “Slide bag behind, shoot to activate lever.” Nice comma fault, that way, isn’t it? A semicolon makes better sense.

Or, we could just–y’know–use the correct word. “Chute.”